Competitions and exhibits entertain at the fair Thursday




A steady trickle of people wandered around the fairgrounds during the Finney County Fair Thursday afternoon, looking at 4-H exhibits, petting exotic animals or enjoying some ice cream in the shade while listening to bands do sound checks for the night's performance.

Inside the Exhibition Building, Sara Brown hung up clothes her daughter, Andrea, made as a sewing project. Brown said the family had a number of things to check on Thursday.

"We just dropped off Legos. I've got open-class sewing, and we've got other arts and crafts," she said.

Brown said the outfit her daughter made was one of her first sewing projects, a task Andrea "sometimes" liked, Sara said with a laugh.

"Her grandma helped her and they did it in two or three days, but that was because grandma was right there with her," Brown said.

Brown's son, Cole, earned reserve champion in the junior boys buymanship style review.

"They buy an outfit and then they model it," Sara Brown said.

Cole, 8, said he modeled a skater outfit, including skinny jeans, a shirt and New York ball cap.

"I put the clothes on at my house and then we had to wait in line to model. When people model, they go to one corner and then go like this," Cole said, demonstrating a full-circle spin. "And then they just go and walk back. Kind of at the end, you get some ribbons."

Getting up on stage wasn't too bad, Cole said.

"I was kinda nervous," he said. "I'm kinda shy, but I like to smile when I'm up on stage."

In addition to modeling, Cole said he entered a couple of metal entries, a bulldozer and a helicopter, a rocket, and even a bunny named Buddy.

Other things going on during the day included Hedrick's Exotic Animal Farm petting zoo, which offered fair-goers a chance to see — and touch — a variety of animals from around the world, such as a zebra, kangaroo, llama, water buffalo and even a yak.

Anna Lanning, with Hedrick's, said the Nickerson-based company has come to the Finney County Fair for the last few years in a row.

"We were here many moons ago and the scheduling didn't work for awhile, but we're back. We did pig races here last year," she said. "This gives people a chance to see animals live, not through the glass of a TV or computer screen. You can learn everything you want about an animal out of a book or on the Internet, but until you're nose to nose with one, it's a whole different story."

Lanning said the farm in Nickerson was started by Joe Hedrick, a former rodeo clown, who had trick animals he worked with during rodeos after someone suggested he start a petting zoo.

In 1990, the farm was opened to the public, and in 1991, Hedrick opened a bed and breakfast. The establishment offers tours and opportunities to interact with a variety of animals.

"Now, we're the premiere animal attraction throughout the United States," Lanning said. "We have many more animals at the farm. We've got all of these animals in herds, as well as giraffes, and all sorts of other things."

Lanning said Hedrick travels to 17 different state fairs and a number of county fairs during the year.

"What's fun about county fairs is there's a lot more community involvement. You've got 4-H exhibits and people are coming out to support their kids or their friends," she said. "It's a lot more intimate."

Hedrick's is open from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday. They also feature camel rides.

"And remember, every day at the camel ride is 'Hump Day!'" she said.

Cousins Alexes Amos, 10, and Jaelynn Smith, 8, enjoyed riding the camel at Hedrick's.

"It was amazing," Smith said.

"And it was fun," Amos said.

The two girls said the camel was a bit bumpy, and had a big hump, but they enjoyed getting to feel his fur.

Stephanie Smith, Jaelynn's mom, also took a turn riding the camel. She laughed when asked what she thought of the ride, and said it hurt her legs a little bit.

"It was sway-ee," she said, referring to the camel's side-to-side motion. "It wasn't like riding a horse."

The fair continues today and Saturday. Tonight's entertainment features the demolition derby at 8 p.m. at the grandstand arena.

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